The big announcement by Jon and Kate Gosselin that they are divorcing comes as no surprise. While they used the word “separate,” the program acknowledged that it has gone farther than that and that they have filed for dissolution of the marriage. I am terribly sad for the children. I thought of the Loretta Lynn song that has the parents spelling their words in a conversation about the end of the marriage so that their children would not understand what was going on.
Their children knew. And so do the eight Gosselin children.
I do not pretend that we can truly understand anything about anyone’s marriage, even one that has been so thoroughly documented. For example, Kate’s frequent on-camera criticism of Jon — she once famously barked at him for breathing — could be superficial, just a heightened form of teasing, or it could be the outward manifestation of something much more fundamentally corrosive. “Reality” television creates the illusion of truth, but every edit shapes the story. Every camera changes what is filmed. And what was true yesterday can change very quickly due to the influence of public attention.
But I think it is fair to say that the stress of eight small children and constant media scrutiny played added to the pressure on Jon and Kate and on their relationship. And I also think it is fair to say that it is a shame our society does not provide more support for couples who need some guidance to strengthen their connection and communication.
I still believe what I said earlier:
Jon and Kate will have to work out what is best for them and for their family. But we, too, should give some thought to the part we have played as their audience — whether for the show or for the salacious gossip. Were we too ready to believe the best about them? Are we too ready to believe the worst?
Families with children who are fans of the show should be prepared to talk about what is going on and to provide reassurance that the eight children will still see both parents and that sometimes grown-ups do not get along but they never stop loving their children.
Uwe Boll is now pretty much universally considered the worst movie director alive, if not the worst ever. Not only are five of his films in the IMDB’s all-time worst 100 list (a record), but Boll has inspired a petition begging him to stop making movies. Like Ed Wood and other legendarily awful directors, Boll is better at raising money to make movies than at making them. He licenses a pre-sold brand, a video game, and then makes a completely incompetent movie about it. About his film “Alone in the Dark,” I wrote “[Tara] Reid [playing a scientist!] delivers her lines as though she is calling for another round of Mai Tais for the house.”
I have to admit, I got a kick out of the corporate governance element of his commentary, and this short film (brief crude language) is much more entertaining than Boll’s movies.
Even the endlessly talented and infinitely adorable Isla Fisher cannot overcome the script problems in this unfrothy romantic comedy about a writer who just can’t stop shopping. As hard as they try to make her irresistable, the character she plays is careless, thoughtless, and untrustworthy. And yet, everyone in the movie seems to be utterly won over by her, making the disconnect between the reactions of the audience and the reactions of the characters more and more jarring.
Fisher plays Rebecca, who was forever blighted by her parents’ penny-pinching. She wanted sparkly and colorful but her mother always bought brown and sensible. So she has grown up into a woman who cannot resist that most magical of siren’s refrains: “SALE.” They are not kidding about the “aholic” part of the title. Like any addict, she is in denial about the way in which her addiction has affected her life and the lives of those around her. She mooches off of her best friend and roommate (a delightful Krysten Ritter as Suze) and constantly lies to everyone, including herself. She goes to great lengths to avoid those nasty people who keep calling her because, oh yes, she does not pay her bills. It is supposed to be charming and funny that racing to the interview for what she says is the job of her dreams she is waylaid by a $120 green scarf, which she pays for with a combination of cash, several credit cards, and what amounts to attempted check-kiting that turns into a straight-on con, based on a gabbled story about a sick aunt. And who turns out to be on the other side of the desk in the interview? Yes, the con-ee himself, the handsome editor (Hugh Dancy in another Prince Charming role as Luke). An all-star supporting cast includes Kristen Scott Thomas as an imperious fashion editor and Julie Hagarty channeling Miss Jane from “The Beverly Hillbillies” as Luke’s assistant.
It is always a mistake for a movie to be more in love with its heroine than the audience is. A little romantic fantasy is welcome but here it reaches absurd levels as the most selfish and irresponsible behavior by Rebbecca produces coos of ecstasy from everyone. She instantly becomes an international sensation with a frivolous article using shoes as a metaphor for personal finance. And preposterously, when she finally begins to accept some responsibility for the mess she has made, the movie wants us to be on her side when she undercuts her inexcusably overdue payment with a silly prank. Fisher should have shopped around for a better script.
I have seen taxidermy livelier than this moribund mess which further sullies the reputation of the original series of films starring Peter Sellers as well as those of everyone associated with this unwelcome sequel to the awful 2006 Pink Panther.
Steve Martin returns as Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling (except when he isn’t) gendarme whose physical and social clumsiness somehow always end up saving the day. This time, a super-thief who leaves a calling card saying simply “The Tornado” has stolen precious artifacts that are central to the pride and identity of European countries. French Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese, with an English accent) is directed to put together a “dream team” of top international sleuths, and despite his best judgment (and jealousy) of Clouseau, he is added to the team. The team includes a snobby (surprise!) Brit (Alfred Molina), a very romantic (surprise!) Italian (Andy Garcia), a Japanese expert in (surprise!) technology (Yuki Matsuzaki). The author of a book on the Tornado turns up to offer her expertise (the always-exquisitely lovely Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). They bicker and pratfall in various beautiful locations, most notably (but not even a little bit interestingly) at the home of The Tornado’s notorious art dealer, played by the top “What is he doing in this mess” award-winner, Jeremy Irons. Second place goes to Lily Tomlin, who once appeared with Martin in the delightful All of Me) but now has to make do as an instructor in culturally sensitive behavior who gets to throw in a “tut-tut” here and there.
The movie is spiritless in concept and limp in execution. It almost feels static as scenes — and attempted gags — are all but stationary. A restaurant burns down twice. Not funny either time. A man tells us — twice — that if something happens he will wear a tutu. It does and he does. But it isn’t funny. Clouseau is very dim or very clever, very sincere or very offensive. Not funny either way. A man shampoos another man’s hair and they discuss the fact that jojoba is pronounced “ho-ho-ba.” Funny? Don’t think so. It is supposed to be funny that Clouseau makes insensitive comments but the movie itself is insensitive on gender and ethnicity — not to make a point and not with any wit, just because it is careless and clumsy. More unforgivably, it is just dull.